I am a mess right now.  In fact, I’ve been crying, off and on, for about 36 hours.  I can’t help it.  For an hour or so, I’m OK, then I think of her and I break down again.

I lost one of my very best friends this past Thursday.  It was rather unexpected too…but on the other hand, it wasn’t.  I had a strange feeling when I saw her for the last time.  As she got into the car I thought to myself – gee, I hope this isn’t the last time I see her.  So I kissed her on the top of her head and watched as they left.  She had a doctor’s appointment in a couple of days and I hoped it wasn’t serious.

Emmie was a chihuahua mix.  Which was odd, because I usually don’t like small dogs.  Or, at least that was my former perception.  It was also the former perception of many friends that, once they got to know her, KINDA’ changed their minds.  Nobody rushed out to adopt a little dog, but they sure loved Emmie.

She was actually a “revenge” dog.  Here’s how it all started…my sister loves chihuahuas.  Well, one day they adopted a new little buddy…my sister let her daughter name the dog.  Well, she named it “Bruce”!  So, when the opportunity to adopt this little bright light I promptly named her Emelia, the name of my niece.  I’ve since heard that my niece changed the pronunciation of her name to Eme-Lia, as opposed to Emelia…I hope you can sound it out in your head.

Emi and MeEmmie was my best backpacking buddy.  She was able to do 15-18 miles a day, day-over-day.  She’d tuck herself into the foot of my sleeping bag, keeping us both toasty warm.  One time, when she got tired I put her on top of my backpack and carried her.  My nephew, Mason, snapped a photo.  I posted it on Facebook and immediately she earned her second trail name…Yoda.  That was the name most preferred by other hikers, because the name I jokingly gave her was “Backup”, as in “backup food source”.

Emmie made friends wherever she went.  She wasn’t your typical chihuahua…she didn’t shake for no reason, and she wasn’t bitchy.  Usually.  Sometimes she’d go all Napoleon on our other dogs, but most of the time, she was just a good little girl.

There’s this backpacking trip that I do, every year, for the last 12 years.  It’s a Thanksgiving potluck in the middle of nowhere.  We all sit around a huge fire sharing stories, playing music and on the Saturday of the event, we chow down on some amazing food.  Well, Emmie used to work her way from lap to lap.  Once one person was tired of having her on their lap they’d dump her on the ground, she’d eventually find the next person in line and they were happy to have her jump up.  When I mentioned her passing, more than a few of the regulars chimed in about how this trip won’t be the same.

Anyway, I needed to write this because right now there is a huge hole in my heart.  I keep thinking about the times she came up to me, excited, and I would push her away because it just “wasn’t the right time”.  I can’t help but look at my other dogs and think that I need to really start pouring on the love.  I’m writhing with guilt because I know I could have been better with her.

But it doesn’t do a soul good to dwell on what could have been; other than to learn how not to do it again.  I’m going to spend time loving on my dogs, cats, friends, family, and above all…my wife.  I don’t want to wish I’d done more when the day comes that we part lives.  I know it’s so cliche but I’m really trying to learn from this.

I have this saying “you’re the only person that you’re guaranteed to spend the rest of your life with; you need to love your own company, but you also need to give the best to everyone you meet”.  Right now I’m really doubting myself and need to figure out how to rise through the hurt, and become a better person.

It’s going to take a while because right now, I’m bawling.